Review: Merlin, BBC1

First published in Reviews Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Features editor

IT’S not been the greatest week for the BBC. But, among all the outrage, it’s worth remembering that a lot of the corporation’s output is still pretty fine.

Strictly may take all the plaudits for trouncing the woeful X Factor in the ratings but the real jewel of Saturday night has to be Merlin.

Rather like its unsung predecessor in the family entertainment stakes Robin Hood, it’s unlikely Merlin will ever get the real credit it deserves in terms of awards. But it’s just great escapist TV. You can even forgive it for being complete nonsense at times.

How, for instance, King Arthur can leave running his kingdom at the drop of a hat just to head of on yet another adventure; how he only seems to have half a dozen knights — I’m always reminded of Monty Python and the Holy Grail — and how no-one appears to live in Camelot.

This week’s was a cracker of an episode and genuine hide behind the sofa stuff as the wonderfully deranged Morgana brainwashed Gwen. Short of waterboarding her, Morgana appeared to use every recognised torture technique banned by the United Nations — and they say Dr Who is scary! There’s so much to enjoy in Merlin from the bromance between Arthur and the young wizard, Richard Wilson’s bewlidered Gaius and above all some pure escapist fun.

Historians will no doubt shudder but it’s not supposed to be the Open University.

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